Clause 11 - Bars to extradition

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 9 January 2003.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 4:45, 9 January 2003

Now that we have, slightly belatedly, reached the debate on the Liberal Democrat new clause, I should say that Conservative Members share the concerns expressed by Justice and the Liberal Democrats in this respect. We, too, will consider what the Minister said about our new clause and will not press it to a vote at this stage, but we hope that he may be able to do a little more on the passage of time issue. Again, we may need to return to that.

I shall give a couple of practical examples, because I have had the benefit of some advice from one of the specialist firms that deals with extradition cases: Victor Lissack and Roscoe. When they consider whether the passage of time reference is needed in part 1 as well as in part 2, it may help the Minister and his officials to be aware of the examples that it gave. That firm, to whose partner, Robert Roscoe, I am indebted, said that it recently, some 15 years after the alleged commission of the offence, had a case from Turkey in which extradition was sought for offences that had occurred in the late 1980s. That is particularly relevant to the concerns that I share with my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon that Turkey may one day become a member of the EU and therefore benefit from the part 1 provisions. I have expressed my views about whether Turkey is an appropriate entrant to the EU; unless it completely transforms its human rights record, I do not think that it should be. Nevertheless, Turkey wants to become an EU member, and if it is successful, it could benefit from the part 1 powers.

The Turkish application was made despite the fact that Turkey's Government were aware that the defendant was living openly in the United Kingdom, where he had been granted resident status. Furthermore, the Turkish Government had contacted the United Kingdom about commencing extradition proceedings three or four years previously, but had then dallied before lodging the request for extradition. Fifteen years is an extraordinary passage of time, which is why we need the protection.

Another brief example involves Italy, which is obviously an EU member. Victor Lissack and Roscoe acted for an Italian who had been living in the country for several years. He was living openly and travelling internationally on his passport. The Italians sought his return for an alleged offence that had occurred in the late 1970s but did not try to commence extradition proceedings until the late 1990s. That is a gap of about 20 years, which is why we need the safeguard in part 1 to mirror what is already in part 2. I hope that the Minister will undertake to examine that.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 12 ordered to stand part of the Bill.